09 August 2023, by Victoria Séveno

A new study conducted by the Dutch Patient Federation has revealed that, in 2022, more than one-fifth of people who were in need of care avoided or delayed going to the doctor due to concerns about the eventual costs. 

Healthcare avoidance on the rise in the Netherlands

With the cost of health insurance on the rise in the Netherlands, various industry experts and organisations have raised concerns about the future of the Dutch healthcare system, with a study conducted at the end of last year revealing that, not only were more people taking out higher deductibles in order to save money, but that many had also avoided going to a doctor, hospital, or dentist in order to dodge the potentially high costs. 

Research conducted by the Dutch Patient Federation echoes these findings: in a survey of 9.219 people in the Netherlands, more than one in five admitted to “avoiding or postponing care in 2022 because they could not afford it.” The research found that those with lower incomes were more likely to avoid going to a healthcare professional, while recently treated patients were found to be most likely to avoid going to the dentist or seeking out a physiotherapist.

Furthermore, the study found that healthcare costs “have a major impact on other financial choices” that people make, thereby affecting “their quality of life in addition to their health.” Of those who said they’d avoided or postponed care, 57 percent said the decision had had “negative consequences” for their health, while 62 percent said it led to “extra stress or anxiety”.

Dutch Patient Federation calling for reform 

Unsurprisingly, those in the medical field are shocked and disappointed by the findings of the study. “This is a very worrying outcome,” says Dutch Patient Federation chief Dianda Veldman. “Good care should be accessible to everyone in the Netherlands, but it clearly isn’t.”

Veldman therefore hopes that the upcoming national elections and the next government will bring about significant changes in the Dutch healthcare system: “As far as the Patient Federation is concerned, we are seizing the elections and the new Cabinet to be formed [as a chance] to come up with targeted, effective and structural measures to solve this problem.” 

The Dutch Patient Federation suggests various changes that could be implemented in order to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. These include “significantly reducing” the healthcare deductible (eigen risico) and ensuring that dental care is at least partially reimbursed as part of basic healthcare packages.

Thumb: BYonkruud via Shutterstock.com.

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